Purple Diamond® LoropetalumLoropetalum chinense var. rubrum 'Shang-hi' (PP# 18,331)
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Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum 'Shang-hi' (PP# 18,331)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Purple Diamond® Loropetalum is a vigorous evergreen bush with upright growth, reaching 5 to 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide within a few years. Its dense branching keeps it compact and bushy, and the bold purple foliage keeps its color all year round. Spring leaves are brighter red, and the flowers that come in early spring are a brilliant pink color. This is definitely one of the brightest and showiest shrubs you can grow. It is perfect as an accent specimen, planted around your home or at the back of beds, and it also makes a colorful screen or hedge.
The Purple Diamond® Loropetalum grows well in all warmer zones and across the Sunbelt. It thrives in full sun or partial shade, even tolerating light full shade. It grows best in moist, rich, well-drained soil, but is easily grown in almost any garden soil except for flooded soils and strongly alkaline ones. It has no pests or diseases and deer usually ignore it. It doesn’t need trimming to stay neat, but it can be trimmed in summer for hedges and more formal settings.
Since they burst onto the scene at the end of the last century, Loropetalum, or Chinese fringe-flower, has been developed into many varieties of different sizes. The earliest forms were taller shrubs, becoming almost tree-like. There are several excellent small varieties too, which we recommend for foreground planting, but we really love the Purple Diamond® Loropetalum for falling right between the big and the small. Most smaller varieties are broad and spreading, but this one is more globe shaped and upright, reaching a modest 6 feet. It’s not about to take over your garden as the early ones sometimes did. That upright shape makes it the pick of them all for hedges – a cool and striking use for these wonderful plants. It also makes great specimens in beds, and in larger planters too. The red new leaves turn purple in summer and winter, but never green, and the bright pink spring flowers are a knock-out. This is no diamond in the rough, but a refined and beautifully-formed gem.
The Purple Diamond Loropetalum is a dense, upright, evergreen shrub growing 4 to 6 feet tall and about 5 feet wide. It is naturally densely branched, and without trimming it still doesn’t become broad and spreading as older varieties do. Branching is kept to the ground, and it has the perfect specimen shape for gardens of all sizes. The stems have reddish-brown bark when young, turning browner and flaking in small plates when older. It will add at least 9 inches in height each year, while also growing denser, so it won’t take long to mature, which is great, but it won’t get enormous, which is even better.
The leaves don’t immediately look evergreen, but they are, although in colder places a few might drop over winter, to be quickly replaced in spring. They are about 1½ inches long, and ½ an inch wide, with a neat oval shape. They are covered in short, soft hairs a little like evergreen azaleas, but it is the color we are here for, and the new growth in spring, coinciding with flowering, is a brilliant and striking rich red. Other varieties then often fade to dingy green, but this one darkens to a rich purple, and stays that way through summer and winter too, so it’s always striking and showy.
Through March, or even as early as February in the hottest zones, flowers appear all over the bush, making a spectacular show. The flowers are small but profuse, carried in clusters of 6 to 8 on short stalks among the leaves. Each flower has four strap-shaped petals, slightly twisted, in a brilliant rich reddish-pink – an extremely warm, vibrant and striking color like a dark fuchsia pink. Set among the new red leaves the effect is dynamite, and this is a truly eye-catching plant for your garden. Some flower stems continue to grow through summer and even into fall. By then there will also be clusters of seed pods, which look a little like small acorns on short stems – interesting even if not particularly showy.
With its moderate size and dense, upright growth, this plant is perfect to add to the evergreen planting around your home, or out in your beds with all kinds of shrubs. It is especially attractive as a hedge, spacing plants 3 to 4 feet apart, and it is neat enough to need little trimming to get that ‘hedge’ look, as well as responding to tighter trimming for a more formal look. It is also great in large tubs or planters, as well as a background for azaleas in a wooded area.
The Purple Diamond Loropetalum thrives throughout the Sunbelt, and it grows well from zone 7 to zone 10. In colder parts of zone 7 some leaves may fall in winter, so plant it in a sheltered spot there, to protect from winter leaf scorch.
Growing best in sun or partial shade, the Purple Diamond Loropetalum will grow in light full shade as well, but not in deep shade. In the hottest zones some afternoon shade is welcome. This plant grows in a wide range of soils, as long as they are well-drained. Alkaline soils are not so desirable, and the best growth is in rich, moist soils. Add organic material when planting, and as mulch in spring. Once established this plant is drought tolerant and very, very easy to grow in almost all gardens.
Some fertilizer in spring will maximize growth rates, but otherwise almost no care is needed. It is untroubled by pests or diseases, and deer usually leave it alone. It can be trimmed in spring, after flowering, but again, this is not essential.
The Chinese fringe flower, Loropetalum chinense, comes, as you probably guessed, from China, and also from Japan and other south-east Asian countries. The common form found growing wild in woodlands has green leaves, and white flowers, but a rare form has been known for some time in China. Known as ‘variety rubrum’, these plants have red spring leaves, turning green in summer and then red again in fall, with pink flowers. The variety called ‘Shang-hi’ was discovered in 2003 by Thomas Meadows, Jr. and James Berry. They had sown a large number of seeds of the rubrum variety at the wholesale nursery of Plant Development Services Inc., in Loxley, Alabama a few years earlier, and now they were examining them to select new and interesting forms. One stood out for its rich flower color and upright form, but especially for the rich purple of its summer and winter leaves. After more trials and testing they named it ‘Shang-hi’ and patented it in 2007. Today it is sold as Purple Diamond®, part of the Southern Living Plant Collection, a joint venture between Plant Development Services and the publishers of Southern Living.
Take advantage of the perfect scale of the Purple Diamond Loropetalum to grow sturdy specimens in your garden that are as beautiful as a plant can be. Don’t make the mistake of waiting, because these plants are leaving our farm faster than we can ship them in.